Nowadays language learning is constantly happening in almost all corners of the world since many people have already learned of the importance of being proficient in more than just a single language. In various fields of research, business, education and other sectors, languages play vital roles in enriching these fields and languages help in making globalization a bit easier.
A lot of people in various parts of the planet are learning the English language since English is considered to be the world’s lingua franca; spoken as a native language by more than five hundred thousand people and as a second language by more than a billion people. A lot of people are also studying the Spanish language since Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world and it is spoken by more than three hundred million native speakers. In the United States there is an upsurge of native English speakers who are learning Spanish and there are Spanish-speaking immigrants who are also learning English in order to adapt into the country they call their new home. However, are you aware that in Spain there are only few people who can read, speak or understand English?
A study was done by Ipsos and it has revealed that only seventeen percent of Spaniards can read English, fourteen percent can understand it, while eleven percent can speak it. The study also revealed that seventy percent of Spaniards are aware of the importance of English yet only four percent are learning it. A director of a language school has stated that the statistics have not changed much over the years and that one of the reasons why some Spanish are not able to learn English is that they are not exposed to it. News broadcasts which feature international leaders talking in English are dubbed in Spanish instead of just adding Spanish subtitles to the original language the video clips are stated in.
Another of the reasons why Spaniards are not learning English is that it requires money to learn the language. Ninety-four percent of more than a hundred thousand Spaniards traveled abroad in 2006 in order to learn English and they spent something between 2500 and 3000 euros for a four-week English language course which some families cannot afford.
Spain is one of the biggest economies in the world ranking at eighth, yet it is failing at a second language. The people of North America and England are also considered to be no experts in second languages and it is being accredited to theory that countries whose languages are spoken by a large number of people do not feel the need to learn other languages.
Neither Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero nor opposition leader Mariano Rajoy can speak English fluently. Among the five prime ministers who have governed Spain since 1975, only one Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, spoke English fluently. PM Zapatero wants all the young people in the country to speak English within a time frame of ten years.
About a hundred thousand people in Spain take the Cambridge ESOL test every year and in 2006, among those who took the proficiency test, seventy percent passed. The Director of the British Council in Spain has stated that “The level of English in Spain has improved considerably over the last ten years.”
If more Spaniards will become interested in learning English and they have access to learn the language, there is hope that Spain will not lag behind other countries when it comes to proficiency in the English language.